We had the good fortune of connecting with Bartley Taylor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bartley, how do you think about risk?
My dad always taught to weight risk in terms of the reward, as I imagine many people were. Does the reward outweigh the risk? If so – take the risk. On the other hand, If I can’t live with the results if I were to fail, then I don’t take the risk. At the current point in my career, risk usually involves investing in self produced projects that will hopefully further my career by opening up opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. As a filmmaker, there is an incessant itch to create and tell stories that cannot ever be scratched, only temporarily subsided. Directors only get work by directing and since the business is so competitive, many of my early opportunities have come from the ones I gave myself. I’ve booked real jobs from clients after they’ve seen my spec commercials, short films and cooking shows that I did for others. These all cost money and have little to no monetary return — but I’m not only looking to make money, I’m looking to build a long lasting career in the field I love and that takes a lot of self investment. So every time I have a new idea and think, ‘do I really want to spend the money to make this come to life?’ I first ask myself – could this possibly further my career? Will this satiate a desire to tell a certain story? Sometimes the answer is yes, other times no — and my decision comes from there.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Currently, my art tends to be something people skip over or try to fast forward through: commercials. I’ve been obsessed with short stories for as long as I can remember and at the end of the day, that’s exactly what a commercial is. This might mean I have a short attention span — after all, I am an ‘old’ millennial. But I digress — I love the Super Bowl. Yes the food, yes the halftime show, and I guess the football…but, it’s really all about the commercials. You can tell a brilliant story that makes viewers feel love, laughter, anger or sadness all in a 30 or 60 second wrapper. What I think sets me apart from others is that I view them as exactly that – stories and opportunities to connect with a viewer, as opposed to a 30 second window to shove a product in someone’s face. If I can make a viewer genuinely connect with a brand over a shared moment, then I’ve done my job. Where I am today professionally, is just the beginning. I feel like after 10 years of self financed projects and knocking on hundreds of doors, I’m only *just* beginning my career, and getting here was not easy. I overcame the challenges, and continue to do so, through the support of loved ones reassuring me that I’m meant to achieve this goal. I’ve made it this far from just putting one foot in front of the other, even during times when I wasn’t sure it was worth it or internal voices of self doubt crept in. This is in turn, is the biggest lesson I have learned from everything – that sometimes it’s not about talent or connections – it’s about endurance and continuing to walk towards that goal by any means necessary. And so, I walk.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I’m a Valley kid born and bread. Teru Sushi on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City – their special rolls are unbeatable. And for the neighborhood feel, take a walk to M Street Coffee in Sherman Oaks. For a night out, Houston’s in Pasadena and Din Tai Fung in Glendale – both unbeatable must-haves.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents. Although it might sound cliché, I’d probably have given up on directing or pivoted to somewhere else in the industry if it weren’t for their encouragement (emotional and monetary). With the exception for a select few star talents, being successful in entertainment is a very long game. It takes a lot of dedication, the feeling that you’re not meant to do anything else, and a little luck. The age of 13 is about the first time I can remember thinking ‘I want to work in film’ after years of being fascinated by movies and storytelling. From that point, my parents have fiercely encouraged and protected that desire in me. It’s very easy to become discouraged in this business for a multitude of reasons that include, but are not limited to: self doubt, over saturation, insane competition and lack of opportunities. We say that ‘small wins’ are what keep us going — those small, singular moments of success that may not feel all that big, but have a significant impact. I’ve been able to reach some of those singular moments of success because of the encouragement of my parents, among other things. I direct commercials with a desire to eventually move into TV directing. In order to book commercial work, you have to have made commercials — well, how do you do that? The age old question of how do I get the 3 years of experience for the entry level job? You make it yourself. Some of my early work was paid for via fundraising, but a lot of it was ‘executive produced’ (read: paid for) by my parents. When friends or colleagues would watch a film or commercial I had made and it gave them an emotional reaction, I was in turn given one of those singular moments that whisper in your ear ‘keep going’. The feeling of creating emotion in another person, or watching them react in a specific way to a story you created is absolutely indescribable. The conversation it creates, the shared perspective – that’s what keeps me going, and my parents continue to encourage me to keep taking those risks and reaching for my goals.